U.S. Federal and State Debt

https://sites.google.com/lcps.org/u-s-federal-and-state-debt/home

For this project, I refigured the information presented in my research paper and used it to create a Google Site. While the audience for my paper was Mr. Stephens, the audience for my new Google Site is Virginia’s Office of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade. I selected this audience because I hope that some of my analysis on government debt will aid any future decision making of the secretary involving Virginia’s debt.

The rhetorical situation of this project heavily influenced my choice of genre as I wanted to present my information in a formal and professional way. Since my new audience was a professional group of state government workers, I wanted to select a genre that I felt would be taken seriously once viewed by the Office of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade. Therefore, I chose to use a Google Site as it allowed me to organize my information, maintain formal diction, and insert photos relating directly to my topic of government debt. 

The purpose and audience of my new rhetorical situation also affected some of the organizational decisions I made in producing my communication. Since my new audience works for the state government of Virginia, I decided to present the debt issue on a federal level at first and then transition into how it affects Virginia. In doing so, I chose to maintain the same formal diction used in my paper as I felt it best fit the professional mood of the new rhetorical situation. These things also allowed for the transition of ideas in my communication to be clear and fluid, which I believe aided the site’s formality and presentation.

Lastly, the rhetorical situation brought on by my new audience and genre led me to make some changes to my research paper’s text. In my research paper, I analyzed the debate over the rising U.S. federal debt and various economic attitudes over how and if to address it. Almost all of the information presented in the original paper was in regards to the federal debt, not individual state debts. When my audience changed and became Virginia’s Office of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, I refigured my research paper’s text to become more appropriate for my new audience and genre. Instead of presenting the government debt debate solely on a federal level, I incorporated more general information about state debts and applied many of the same principles used to evaluate the federal debt to the state of Virginia’s deficit. In doing so, I added a couple of facts about Virginia’s debt and made concepts such as GDP and trade applicable to the state level.

The Culture of Fandom

Ever since I was a baby, my dad has brought me to College Park, Maryland on to watch the University of Maryland football team. If you’re unfamiliar with Maryland athletics, I can describe the experience of being a fan in one word: exhausting. Year after year, the season is composed of countless let downs. Whether it’s losing to a team you know you should’ve beaten, or the quarterback tearing his ACL two games into the season, Maryland football never lives up to its expectations. Through everything, however, my father has taught my brother and I to remain loyal and never give up on our team.

My father graduated from the University of Maryland in 1986. Since that day, he was determined to instill a culture in his future family revolving around the pride he had in his college. Like religion, college fandom is a very powerful opportunity to become involved in something larger than yourself. Whether your Buddhist or Muslim or Christian or Jewish, religion is a vehicle to practice faith and bond with others like you. Similarly, no matter what school or team you pledge your allegiance to, fandom is a culture that unites you with others and allows you to experience some of the highest highs and the lowest lows. These types of things can truly bring meaning to your life.

For me, the Maryland culture my father established in our family has had an immeasurable impact on my life. It has created a bond between my family that I believe will never bend or break. When the team wins, we rejoice together, When the team loses, we comfort and sulk with one another. No matter what happens, what matters is that we experience it together, because that’s what makes the culture of fandom a meaningful and life-filling chain of experiences.

The End of an Era

My whole life, golf had been a formative component in how I was raised. As a kid, my dad threw a plastic club into my brother and I’s hands and let us wack that little white ball back and forth all day long. Golf has always been something that tied my family together. Growing up, we spent countless hours on the links after school. We never had to take lessons. My father taught us from the beginning, and we used his knowledge of the game to improve our skills. In addition to other things, this helped create a bond between the three of us revolving around the game of golf that still holds strong to this day.

As my brother and I transitioned into high school, we were determined to play golf for our school. Being four years ahead of me, I watched my brother dominate the league. He was consistently an all-district player, and was named captain of the team for three out of his four years as a Heritage golfer. In eighth grade, I began to realize that I did not possess the same talent as my brother. However, I came to terms with this, because frankly, I did not care enough. Although I loved playing the game of golf, I never had the same drive as my brother to better myself each and every day.

Throughout my four years on the varsity team, I was never the number one guy on the team. With that being said, I still had a passion for the game of golf and the teammates I had. I made up for my lack of consistency on the course by leading the team, day in and day out. After a bad round, I was the first guy to support a teammate and tell them that one round does not define them. After a good round, I was right there, waiting to congratulate a stellar performer. As a result of this consistent leadership, I was named captain of the team for my senior year.

Senior year on the golf team was like none other. More than ever before, we seemed to have a deep and consistent enough lineup that we believed would carry us to the state championship. After struggling in some preseason tournaments, we ripped up our conference schedule, defeating most of the teams we played. Come postseason, we were confident in our game and ready to perform and move on. In the district tournament, we excelled. Despite the morning fog that hung over the course along the river, our team shot a 301 and won first place at the tournament. After this outing, we were confident in our ability as we moved on to regionals.

At the regional tournament, we struggled. The whole day is still one big blur to me. We were shocked at how poorly we performed. From top to bottom, our lineup did not produce. There was no one man to blame, even though we would not have blamed them anyways. At the end of the day, we missed moving on to states by a couple strokes. I was heartbroken, realizing this was probably one of the last times I will ever play competitive golf.

At the end of day, the end of my high school golf career was bittersweet. Although I was hoping to move on, I did not sulk in our loss. Instead, I reflected on all of the positive memories my time on the team gave me. In addition to building lifelong friendships, my coach taught me many life lessons, such as to never dwell on the past and to always keep your chin up. I will miss playing high school golf, but I am grateful for all it has given me.

The Positive Side of Senior Year

As I sat there thinking about the abundance of college essays I need to complete after this blog post, a truly happy thought occurred to me. As a senior, it is easy to get caught up in the stress of both applying to college and maintaining a rigorous schedule to further develop one’s competitive profile. Every time I think about the college stuff I need to complete, a snowball effect occurs. My heart pounds. I struggle to breathe, thinking about the gravity of the application process and the effect it could have on the rest of my life. Like I said, it is easy to get caught up in all of this. However, as I sat in front of my chromebook debating on what to write about, I had a realization about this year. Unlike any prior year, I feel more and more like a kid each and every day. I have began to embrace the “last year of high school” mentality. I have began to spend more time with my grade, which is a dramatic change from last year, as I was typically around those who are older than me. I have began to develop good friendships with these people, and being around them has showed me how amazing it is to have these people in my life. Smiling and laughing and connecting and participating have become a part of everyday life. To my own surprise, I have placed school work in the backseat this year, realizing how important it is to go out and make lifelong memories. I am beginning to see the importance of slowing down every once and awhile. I am beginning to see and enjoy the pure essence of my existence. I am beginning to see that it is these people, more than any other time in my life, who will help me define who I am and who I want to be.

High School Artifact

This photo represents one of the most memorable moments from my time at Heritage High School. It was my first high school football game, an experience that almost everyone recalls from their youth. I vividly remember the anticipation leading up to the game. All day, I watched the clock slowly go by- tick, tick, tock. I can still imagine the sound of the classroom clock in my head. When the last bell of the day finally rang, I raced home, eager to figure out what I was going to wear. The theme of the game was a U.S.A. out (a theme that quickly cemented itself as my favorite of all time). There is nothing like those games, standing in the middle of a crowd of people, all united by the colors of the country we proudly call home. Like puzzle pieces connecting to form a beautiful masterpiece, the red, white, and blue mixed perfectly that night.

My friends and I arrived to the game early and jostled through the crowd to find the perfect spot in the section dubbed “The Chaos Crew”. On that day, chaos was an apt description. The weather that night was perfect: it was not to hot, not too cold, and a light fall breeze made the conditions impeccable. The lights shined bright on the field that night, like a sun in the night. As the crowded roared and echoed its cheers, Heritage came away with an uplifting victory. When the clock struck zero, the band began its victory anthem, and the students shouted and applauded along with the sweet tune.

As the student section emptied, my friends and I climbed the metal bleachers to take the perfect photograph. We were looking for something more than to just post on social media. We wanted a momento to remember and cherish that night for a long, long time. Dressed head to toe in our nation’s pride, we smiled, thinking of the fun that was that night under the lights.

The Power of Vulnerability in a College Essay

Being vulnerable is a feeling that we all dread. As I have watched my fellow peers go through the college application process, I have seen first hand how difficult it can be for someone people to write about their struggles. Many people write off vulnerability in an essay out of fear of being judged or feeling insecure or admitting their struggles. I, however, believe vulnerability is a very powerful aspect of writing.

By writing about your imperfections and darkest moments, students are able to give colleges a look at who they truly are, beyond a profile with your scores and GPA. Instead of writing to brag about the activities you have done or the scores you have earned, writing with vulnerability makes the purpose of essay go beyond trying to get into the college. Vulnerability shows strength in an individual. This is essential in the college process as a lot of schools are interested in who you are outside of the classroom and how you could make an impact on their campus. As a result, I believe being vulnerable in a college essay is the first step to success as it gives your essay a voice and allows you to impact the admissions officer on the other end.

The power of vulnerability in a college essay has one more key benefit. By writing with vulnerability and displaying the obstacles you have had to hurdle, an applicant is a able to show a school how they have grown and matured as a person. This can add to your application by showing how you able to confront issues and overcome them, instead of letting them overcome you. Once again, this vulnerability in writing about your imperfections can show the school what kind of person you are beyond your academic record. Although it may not completely turn the table on your application, vulnerability in your essays can sometimes be powerful enough to push your profile beyond the border and get you into a school.

Organic Object Blog Post

A puny, wrinkled tomatillo rests on a desk in Heritage High School. This exotic vegetable, which may appear appalling to some, is so much more than its shriveled exterior shell. If you peel back its shell, the tomatillo’s true self is revealed – a glowing green interior ball of wonder. Is it trying to trick us with its ugly facade, you may ask? Does it not want to be consumed?

Meanwhile, somewhere in the world, a shy human puts up her own facade to protect herself from permeating pain. Facades are abstract concepts that really make me ponder people’s true intentions. In Los Angeles, a boss poses as an everyday employee to surprise his workers with bonuses. In Atlanta, a scared kid poses as someone else to protect her identity from a nosey, haggard stranger. In Boston, a terrorist poses as a civilian watching a marathon, as he prepares to unleash hell on the lives of hundreds of innocent people. 

The next day, the tomatillo’s facade has grown more gruesome. Once green, it is now brown. However, its insides remain pristine, like an antique car crammed into a garage, itching to be seen by the world. This object has experienced change. As humans, we are often programmed to study change with a negative connotation. Even the definition of facade, as defined by Oxford, says that a facade is meant to conceal something unpleasant. I have read this definition. I have studied it. I disagree. I believe facades can be used for good, like someone trying to protect themselves from the danger that is our world. However, this change in appearance is often viewed in a negative light in our society.

It is extraordinary to think about the different connotations of both facades, and change as a whole. Many humans view change as negative. Nature, however, experiences more positive changes. On a warm spring day, a deer grows its antlers, a tree grows its leaves, a caterpillar grows new life, transitioning into a butterfly. As humans, I believe we become too absorbed in the drastic component of change, failing to analyze whether it results in more good or more bad. Many consumers would see the tomatillo’s brown exterior and immediately disregard it. However, it remains as ripe as ever, primed to be eaten at any moment. In this case, the tomatillo’s facade can be seen as positive. As time goes on, it changes to protect itself from consumption, just like you and I change to protect ourselves from being consumed by the world’s wickedness.

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